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Renault drivers look ahead to Spanish GP

NEWS STORY
21/04/2008

Fernando, Bahrain was a difficult race for you and the team. Was it the result you had expected?
Fernando Alonso: The race was difficult, but we were prepared for that. Our qualifying performance had been a pleasant surprise, but we knew that our race pace would not allow us to achieve much better than tenth place, and so we did not manage to score any points for the first time this year. We are missing some speed and that is what we hope to improve with the latest updates that we have coming. I know that the team is doing its best to progress quickly, and I will continue to give my maximum this weekend.

You are preparing to race in your home Grand Prix. Is that a special feeling?
FA: This is certainly a special feeling. I benefit here from amazing support and it is very motivating. Some people see this as added pressure for me, but it's not. Instead it gives me the determination to do even better. I hope to be in a position to give the Spanish people a beautiful show. And with two races in Spain this year, I am very lucky.

The return to Europe always coincides with upgrades to the cars and new developments, and the team has worked hard to provide a stronger package. Have you felt the progress?
FA: After the first three races, it was clear that we were not at the level of the leading teams. We were missing some speed and the car was sometimes unstable in the quick corners and under braking. The team has made big efforts with improvements to the aerodynamics and with the level of mechanical grip. We had the chance to work through these on the track at Barcelona last week, and the first results proved encouraging. But it remains to be seen how much our competitors will have improved by as well.

What can you hope for from the Spanish Grand Prix?
FA: I think that once again it will be a very competitive race. All the teams and drivers know the track very well, so it is difficult for the driver to make a difference at this level. I hope that our hard work will pay us back and that our car will allow us to catch up with the other teams, although it will certainly not be easy. Qualifying once again will be essential, and we will have to be well placed to try and score the maximum points.

Nelson, you are three races into your F1 career. How do you look back on the start of the year?
Nelson Piquet: The beginning was obviously very tough, especially at the first race in Australia, because everything was new and there was so much to learn. But race-by-race things are getting easier. I have taken a lot from the first three races and gained so much experience in terms of how to approach a Grand Prix, and how to work with the team to optimise our performance. I think I just need a bit more luck in the coming races and then we will hopefully be able to start challenging for some points. I have a good relationship with Fernando and we work well together, and I'm keen to make the most of his experience.

Where do you feel you need to improve?
NP: Every race I learn something new – just little things about how to set up the car and how to get the most from the tyres. And a Formula 1 weekend goes by very quickly so you need to maximise each session in order to be ready for qualifying. In Australia we did not do this, but I felt that in Malaysia and Bahrain things were better. This is something I will continue working on throughout the season.

Can you tell us about the circuit here in Barcelona? Is it a track you enjoy?
NP: Barcelona is not one of my favourite circuits, but it is certainly one that I know very well as we spend so much time testing there throughout the year, and so there are unlikely to be any surprises during the Grand Prix. It's not a particularly difficult or challenging circuit, but you need to have good aerodynamic performance because there are a lot of medium-speed corners. This makes it difficult to follow other cars closely and overtaking is not easy. It will therefore be important to do my best in qualifying so that I don't get stuck in traffic and we can make the most of our strategy.

The team has an updated package for the Spanish Grand Prix. What difference will it make and what is your goal for this weekend?
NP: I think that with the improvements that we have in Barcelona we should be able to take a step forward. We had some positive days here last week and there are lots of avenues that we are still exploring. But we have to remember that the upgrades to the car need to be understood, developed, and maximised - all this takes time and so we cannot expect instant results. But, if I was being optimistic, I think we can aim to get both cars into the top ten in qualifying and then aim to finish the race in the points.

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